Congressman Dingell Denounces Climate Change Policies

by William Yeatman on June 9, 1997

Exerpted Remarks of Congressman John D. Dingell before the National Energy Resources Organization, June 10, 1997

Let me turn now to climate change. You know that I have also been skeptical of the administration’s policy since the US committed to the ‘Berlin Mandate’ back in 1995. As you know, that agreement bound the developed countries to new obligations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions — and explicitly barred negotiators from requiring any new commitments of the developing nations. Subsequent negotiating sessions have demonstrated how unwise this process agreement was, as the developing world repeatedly reminds our negotiator the we traded off any right to demand more from them.

Standing back from these procedural concerns, I have four major criticisms of the Administrations policy on climate change:

First, it has overreached on science. It is one thing to conclude, as the UN’s scientific body did in 1995, that there is a link between human activity and climate change. It is quite another to leapfrog over the many uncertainties in the IPCC report and set specific emissions targets and timetables.

Second, the administration has not done its homework. Last fall an administration witness told the energy and Power Subcommittee that the long-promised “analysis and assessment” of the economic impact of future agreements would be finished by January of this year. We now are told that it may be done by late July — a mere six months before the conference of the parties meets to discuss treaty amendments in Kyoto.

Third, against this backdrop of inadequate knowledge and preparation, official US policy has shifted from supporting voluntary action to requiring mandatory action. In January, the US proposed an international cap and trade system for greenhouse gas emissions, in spite of the fact that it does not yet know with any certainty the full extent of the problem, how to address it, or what the consequences will be for the US economy.

Let me end my remarks on climate change by pointing out that any amendment to the treaty would come before the Congress in two forms: First, for Senate Ratification and second, for approval of implementing legislation. If the Administration continues on its current course, it will face a very hard road indeed in trying to live up to the obligations it apparently is planning to take on in Kyoto next December.

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